Microsoft patent loss of minimal impact

Microsoft New Zealand expects small number of local affected customers

Microsoft doesn’t know how many of its New Zealand customers will be affected by a recent patent infringement ruling in the US.

The vendor has begun notifying corporate customers worldwide that they are required to patch new corporate installations of Office Professional 2003 and Access 2003 to install Service Pack 2.

Those with new installations of Office XP Professional and Access 2002 are required to install a separate patch.

The notification follows a California court ruling ordering Microsoft to pay a Guatemalan inventor US$8.9 million (NZ$13 million) for infringing his 1994 patent of software to help transfer data between Excel spreadsheets and the Access database using a single spreadsheet. The court required Microsoft to remove the patented software.

Microsoft New Zealand managing director Ross Peat says the company doesn’t have a feel for the numbers affected locally but expects them to be relatively limited.

“We see it affecting a very small number of customers,” he says.

Existing corporate customers with volume licensing deals will not need to make the changes because they will have already received Service Pack 2.

All customers can also download SP2 or the patch from the Microsoft website. Retail versions of the software will include a disk with Office 2003 SP2.

Peat says there will be no cost to the customers for the update. Microsoft says the contents of SP2 have not changed since its initial release.

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